Once seen as a model of public employee labor sophistication and clout, California’s prison officers union is struggling amid the state’s financial meltdown and a sour relationship with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, reports the Sacramento Bee. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association over three decades built a reputation for its textbook application of raw political force, fueled with enough money to sway elections and build or destroy political careers. Its 33,000 members are the best-paid correctional officers in the nation.
The state legislature, facing budget shortfalls, has curbed state employee overtime and trimmed holiday pay. The changes were largely aimed at the prison union and will hit the state’s prison officers squarely in the wallet. Last year, California correctional officers made an average $63,230, more than any other federal, state or local counterpart in the U.S.; New Jersey rnked second, averaging $62,240. Third-place Massachusetts paid its correctional officers $54,850. Their federal counterparts made an average $50,330, and the national average wage of the 428,000 men and women in the industry was $41,340. The figures, compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, track full-time employees and don’t include management.
The wages reported are for straight-time gross pay and exclude overtime or shift differentials.